A DEDICATED optician is embarking on his first excursion to Africa later this year to help train opticians in Zambia.
Simon Wood, 25, has worked at Specsavers in Bridlington for more than five years and will travel to Mongu, Western Zambia in December to provide invaluable training at one of the latest facilities to open as part of an ongoing project by Specsavers and Vision Aid Overseas to provide accessible eyecare to all in Zambia.
Once fully trained, the centre’s staff will provide walk-in eye examinations and affordable glasses made to the right prescription.
Simon said: “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to volunteer with Vision Aid Overseas.
“This is my first trip to Africa and I’m really keen to impart my knowledge and skills to the centre’s staff.
“We’re fortunate enough in the UK to have fantastic training facilities and I’m really keen to help others who, at the end of the day, want to improve the lives of many people with the power of corrected vision.
“If I can help them do their day-to-day job with increased knowledge and the confidence that I’ve been given by learning my craft over the last few years, my trip will have been a success.”
Mark Kunz, store director of Specsavers in Bridlington says: “A lot of people take their sight for granted but without it, individuals in the developing world struggle to find work.
“The training Simon is providing is vital and we’re all extremely proud of him.”
The vision centre in Mongu is one of four which Specsavers has committed to funding in Zambia.
Previously there had been very limited provision for the one in four Zambians who desperately require it, with just a handful of qualified optometrists serving the population of 12 million people.
Simon will spend his fortnight dispensing glasses, cutting lenses and helping the centre’s staff go about basic dispensing with ease.
Vision Aid Overseas will fund part of Simon’s trip and the Lion’s Club in Bridlington has stepped in to provide the further £750 to secure his place.
Simon continued: “I am quite apprehensive about my trip especially all the bugs and injections I’m going to have to endure.
“It’s going to be a very different experience to working in Bridlington but ultimately I’m looking forward to the challenges and helping people who genuinely want to learn and make a difference.
“I just hope enough people support me in my mission and dig deep so I can raise the funds to make the journey out to Africa.”
For more information about Vision Aid Overseas visit www.vao.org.uk